Ecuador is one of the richest countries on the planet in terms of biological and cultural diversity. Its privileged geographical location in the neotropics, its varied relief and influence of marine currents, converge to build the scenario of the most varied forms of life of flora, fauna and microorganisms, in its genetic diversity and ecosystems.
Also, the presence of the Andes Mountains has been essential for a high concentration of bird species, allowing Ecuador to be considered one of the 17 megadiverse countries.
Its semi-tropical rainforests are home to more than 450 species of birds, which have made it one of the best birding spots in all of South America. Many rare species such as the toucan-Barbudo, the cock-of-the-rock and the golden-headed quetzal all inhabit Mindo and the surrounding reserve. It attracts birding enthusiasts from all over the world due to its large number and diversity of birds.
The Mindo Nambillo Protected Forest covers an area of 19,200 hectares, located within the parishes of Mindo, which comprises 55% of the best preserved forest area; Lloa, which has 30% of what is largely the rocky area of the Guagua Pichincha Volcano, and the parish of Nono, which has 15%. All of the protective forest is within the province of Pichincha.
It occupies several ecological levels, including the páramo, cloud forest, montane piedmont forest, and subtropical forest, among others, which gives this protected area great plant and floral diversity that has not yet been fully inventoried.
One third of Ecuador’s birds have their habitat in the 19,200 hectares of the Mindo- Nambillo Protected Forest Reserve. In this context, the surroundings of the town of Mindo have become a real hot spot for bird watching.
Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, ranking fourth in terms of the number of bird species per unit area, surpassed only by Colombia, Peru and Brazil.
Eighteen percent of the total number of species recognized worldwide, or 1,655, exist in this country. Hummingbirds stand out, of which 124 species, or 35% of the total number of hummingbirds on the planet, are recorded in Ecuador. Many of the wild bird species are found only in Ecuadorian territory.
This privileged location gives the country a great comparative advantage and a competitive edge for the planned, organized and technical development of birdwatching activities.
In Mindo there are approximately 500 species of birds, among which are the cock of the rock, toucan, parrots, blackbirds, hummingbirds, quetzals, caciques, etc.. In addition, in its surroundings there are other areas with equal biodiversity such as Milpe and the Silanche River with equal biodiversity.
Within the canton of San Miguel de los Bancos is the rural parish of Mindo, located northwest of the province of Pichincha, this place is characterized by a cloud forest, the warm climate and natural landscape make this site ideal for bird watching.
According to the last record made in May 2022, there is a record of more than 500 species. Most of Mindo’s forests are protected since they were named by Birdlife International as the first Important Bird Area (IBA) in South America in 1997. Mindo for the last few years has been at the top of the world’s bird count festivals, it also holds the highest record of endemic birds in the world. In Mindo is an ideal place to observe hummingbirds; Ecuador has the highest record of hummingbird species in the world, with more than 130 species, being Mindo the habitat of about a third of them.
The bird watching activity is always recommended to be done in the early hours of the morning, since it is where you can observe the largest number of species, this can be done on your own if you know the trails, but it is advisable to do it with an agency and accredited guides for this activity. Part of Mindo is part of the ecoroute known as “El Paseo del Quinde” a route very appreciated by national and foreign tourists who seek to learn more about birds, here you can find Tanagers, Mosqueritos, Trepatroncos, Rondamungos and endemic species such as the Cock of the Rock (Rupicola peruvianus) or the Black-chested Zamarrito (Eriocnemis nigrivestis).
Here is the Mindo – Nambillo Protected Forest Reserve; this great destination since 1994 was the pioneer in conducting the Christmas Bird Count in Ecuador, where 220 species were counted and each year this number is increasing.
At the moment there are places where you can live the experience of observing and feeding the hummingbirds from the palm of your hand. For this activity you always need comfortable clothes and greenish colors to avoid attracting the attention of the birds, mosquito repellent, boots and most importantly a bird guide, binoculars, telescope or cameras.
Ecuador represents 0.03 percent of the planet’s surface and despite its small territory, it has one of the highest concentrations of birds in the world, with around 1,600 species.
In 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman, like other conservationists, was upset by the killing of birds at an annual Christmas hunting event, in which the team that killed the most birds and small animals won. In protest, Chapman along with 27 friends organized the Christmas Bird Count at 25 different locations, the event consisted of counting birds instead of killing them.
Since that year in the United States, the Caribbean, Canada, Central and South America the Christmas bird count has been carried out, a census that also allows us to observe and enjoy these extraordinary winged creatures.